Washington: The Defence Department effort to help Pakistan secure its border with Afghanistan and root out Taliban fighters is underfunded by as much as 73%—a budget shortfall so severe that it could slow down operations in March, according to a report.
The conclusion, included in an assessment by the Government Accountability Office, highlights the stark challenges facing the Obama administration as it tries to salvage the war effort.
The Defence Department’s “Security Development Program” is aimed at training and equipping more than 10,000 Pakistani “Frontier Corps” fighters for counterinsurgency tasks and is considered a top priority among US officials.
The programme received $62.5 million so far this budget year, which began 1 October. Defence officials say $167.5 million more is needed before the next budget year begins in eight months, according to the GAO.
The accountants do not say why the programme’s budget is in trouble. The report states only that as of the end of 2008, “no existing security assistance funds have been redirected” to the programme, and without “dedicated long-term funding” the training and equipping of Pakistani forces could slow down by March.
The Defence Department had no immediate comment.